Without higher contributions from workers and taxpayers, Pennsylvania’s public sector pension plans may not be able to pay for their promises.
And if investment returns fail to live up to expectations, the two pension funds could run dry before the end of the next decade.
Those are the startling conclusions drawn by a pair of researchers at the Mercatus Center, an economic think tank based at George Mason University, which examined Pennsylvania’s Public School Employees Retirement System and the State Employees Retirement System.
The center says PSERS has a 31 percent chance of making it to 2030 with sufficient funding to pay for all the retirement benefits promised to current and former workers, while SERS has only a 16 percent chance of making it that long.
Air pollution from natural gas sites in Pennsylvania increased significantly in 2013, the state Department of Environmental Protection says.
Emissions from sulfur dioxide, a precursor of acid rain, was up 57 percent from 2012, DEP said. Volatile organic compounds increased 19 percent. Methane gas, a greenhouse gas, was up 13 percent. Particulate matter (also called soot) was up 12 percent and nitrogen oxides, which form soot, increased 8 percent.
The increased emissions were not unexpected as natural gas production and related processing operations were up in the state as compared to 2012, said John Quigley, DEP secretary.
Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday that students educated at Lehigh Career & Technical Institute and Lehigh Carbon Community College will power Pennsylvania’s economic engine.
“If we’re going to have a future in manufacturing in Pennsylvania, what you learn here is really, really important,” Wolf told students after touring LCCC and LCTI, which sit on neighboring campuses in North Whitehall Township.
“I’m preaching the gospel of manufacturing,” he said. “Manufacturing is making a comeback…Part of the reason manufacturing has a great future in Pennsylvania is because we have really good workers.”
Lancaster County officials aren’t the only ones expressing concern over oil trains passing through communities along the Susquehanna River.
Harrisburg City Council Tuesday night passed a resolution that urges Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve the designs of rail cars that carry explosive crude oil across the country and through populated areas.
The resolution also urged rail companies to replace their fleet of oil tank cars with improved models. And the measure asked the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to help local emergency responders better prepare for the possibility of an oil-train accident.
The Yuengling Light Lager Jogger 5K featured thousands of runners and even a marriage proposal Saturday in Pottsville.
This is the third year for the event that had runners from 33 states and the District of Columbia. The race started at 9 a.m. but before then, people were busy getting ready for the event organized by CK Running LLC, Philadelphia.
Cathleen Klassen, 44, of Hummelstown, a Pottsville native, was getting ready to run again this year, her third year doing so.
“I love coming home. I love having a chance to see people I grew up with,” she said.
When Turkey Hill comes to mind, most people think of flavorful ice cream and sweet iced tea. But in Wilkes-Barre, many mention the recent spike in robberies at the company’s stores before thinking of their signature snacks.
Since January 2014, city police have responded to at least 22 Turkey Hill robberies, 13 of which occurred in the last four months.
Frequent customers have not abandoned these stores, but some have questioned the safety during late-night hours.
Lisa Cummings of Mountain Top often visits the Turkey Hill on North Pennsylvania Avenue after work, but said she would probably not go to the store at 3 a.m.
POTTSTOWN, PA – Gov. Tom Wolf may not have learned everything there is to know about “Beowulf” when he was a student at The Hill School, “but I did learn how to ask questions; I did learn how to think and I did learn how to live.”
Those were among the short lessons Wolf had for the students and guests Thursday night when he accepted the school’s 17th Annual Sixth Form Leadership Award.
“I came to Hill in the fifth form, so I was only here a brief time, but it made a big difference in my life. I came away from this place a much better person that I was when I came in,” said Wolf, who attended the school from 1965 to 1967.
During those years, he was on the swimming and soccer teams, was assistant editor at The Dial and played the sousaphone.
On sparsely traveled back roads across Lancaster County, more than two dozen narrow, unassuming bridges built in a simpler era are showing their age.
Concrete is weathered and cracking. The decks are no longer safe for even moderate loads.
The Lancaster County commissioners are addressing the problem by turning to impact fee revenue from natural gas drillers. As of February, the county had $2.2 million available, said county engineer Scott Russell of Rettew Associates.
The commissioners are counting on continuing impact fee revenue to help fund the replacement or repair of nearly all 44 county-owned concrete or steel bridges over the next five years.
Lancaster, Pa. – Pa. based social service agency is addressing poverty by making funds available to help families make ends meet. As disposable income declines, some 76% of Americans have a hard time and struggle to pay for their needs. Community Clearinghouse Agency is launching a new voucher program designed to provide funds to help women and families pay for their needs. CCA partnered with the Trade Exchange Network who will provide their members with the funds they need to pay for things they want. The unique feature is that rather than cash, Credits serve as currency. Each member gets a free checking account to write checks to pay for goods or services from other members. Checking accounts are monitored using the credit and debit system. Unlike the old barter system where each person had to have what the other wanted with the same value, a hard match to make. The Exchange offers a pool of members that can trade with one another using credits as money.
Programs called LETS (Local Exchange Trading System) with 200 in the U.S and 1,500 in 39 countries offer mutual credit or complimentary currency, allowing members to trade goods or services without the use of cash. Because of a poor economy, Greece and Spain currently use this system, trading for food and household needs. Members earn Credits by selling goods or services; they can also purchase virtually anything within the Network. The idea, according to Dale Vega, CCA executive director is to provide funds enabling families to afford what they need. Families can purchases vouchers in any amount they choose, the Exchange subsidizes it based on a 5-1 ratio.
CCA is a volunteer based 501-C-3 social service helping Abused Women, Seniors, Veterans and Families in need in Lancaster County since 1995. Vega said “We anticipate that the new partnership will benefit thousands of families and CCA too. The Exchange serves as a no cost community service designed to help families get what they need. After quarterly operating expenses, the Exchange will donate the balance to the CCA charity to continue community services. Sponsors are invited to purchase a voucher in any amount and donate it to CCA for distribution to families that lack funds to pay for one.
An information kit and application are only available by mail. The charity asks for ten dollars to defray postage, printing and expenses, the Exchange will credit it to your account. Requests can be mailed to CCA P.O. Box 8361 Lancaster, Pa. 17604-8361. Inquiries by telephone or email are not accepted.
This is the time of the year when your throw your arms up and yell, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!!!” (That’s the famous quote from the 1976 movie Network about a former anchor’s ravings over the media’s quest for profits.) Hmm, I think director Sidney Lumet was on to something.
Back to weather. Yes, we do have a chance of some wet snow this evening, but this will be solely confined across the distant northern and western suburbs. The Lehigh Valley and the Poconos could pick up an inch or two in the highest elevations.
Most of the region, including the city, will see a cold rain arriving during the afternoon and continuing through the evening rush. I’m also including a few scattered thunderstorms across extreme South Jersey and Delaware.
Discount grocer Aldi said Friday that it will reopen 30 of the 66 former Bottom Dollar stores it took over in Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and northeast Ohio after the previous owner, the Delhaize Group, shut Bottom Dollar last year.
Five ex-Bottom Dollar stores in Philadelphia and 14 in the suburbs will reopen. Four Philadelphia stores will stay shut, along with 13 in the suburbs.
Aldi, an Illinois-based U.S. arm of Germany’s Albrecht family grocery conglomerate, said in 2013 it planned a $3 billion expansion, and Friday’s announcement is part of that effort.
THREE-FIFTHS OF Chris Aschman’s jazz quintet managed to fit onto the tiny stage upstairs at Jose Pistola’s, where the crimson glow makes musicians look like they’re playing in Amsterdam’s red-light district.
Aschman, a 29-year-old trumpet player, stayed on the floor, next to the saxophonist.
Then, the bassist reached overhead and turned off the TV and the audience of 20-somethings switched their attention from NCAA basketball to a funky, odd-time-signature groove driven by a young drummer in a Phillies cap who stomps on the kick drum like he’s got something to prove.
The song, called “UCB,” short for “Undercover Brother,” is an Aschman original, as were nine of the 11 songs his group played at the Center City bar earlier this month.
A lot of people in this part of the nation swore they’d move south during this year’s harsh winter. It appears many of them already have.
According to estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, warm regions regained population growth momentum last year that was lost during the recession. But population fell in the area comprised of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming counties.
Fourteen of the 20 fastest-growing metropolitan areas were in Florida, Texas or the Carolinas, led by The Villages near Orlando, which grew by 5.4 percent between July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014. In contrast, the fastest-growing metro areas in Pennsylvania grew by 0.6 percent.
The bureau estimated that the population in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area fell by 2,159, or 0.4 percent over the year. Within the three-county region, Lackawanna County lost the most, 1,115, or 0.5 percent. Luzerne County’s population declined 1,033, or 0.3 percent, and Wyoming County’s was relatively unchanged.
Pittsburgh may not be the steel town it once was, with the economy of the state’s second largest city these days tied more to hospitals and higher education than smoke stacks. But manufacturing is still a huge part of Pennsylvania’s economy.
The sector employs more than 571,000 people in the commonwealth — including more than 30,000 in the York-Hanover area alone.
The average compensation for someone who works in manufacturing, not just assembly line workers but plant managers and other executives, is more than $69,000. That’s well above Pennsylvania’s median household income, which was $52,548 in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
With manufacturing’s above-average wages, new Gov. Tom Wolf has identified increasing the number of manufacturing jobs as one of his top economic priorities.
HARRISBURG, PA – Pennsylvania could own a bunch of professional sports team if it wanted.
OK, maybe we’re taking some liberty with that, but there is some math to back it up. If Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget is enacted exactly as he presented it earlier this month, the state’s total operating budget would soar to $78.6 billion, the highest level ever.
To put that in perspective, it’s enough to buy all 32 teams in the National Football League, based on average team values compiled by Forbes.com. And then for fun, the state still could buy all 30 teams in Major League Baseball and have enough left to build a few state-of-the-art stadiums.
Of course, that’s assuming the state would spend nothing on its actual responsibilities, like public education and roads and bridges. But for our purposes, it helps illustrate the sheer volume of state spending that’s on the table.
Family-owned convenience store chain Sheetz Inc. crossed a milestone last month when it opened its 500th store, one of about 30 the Altoona-based company plans to open this year.
Known for its large gas stations with myriad fresh made-to-order food choices that are popular with travelers, the company grew to $6.9 billion in sales last year, up nearly 5 percent from the previous year.
In a bid to expand into urban markets, the company, which employs more than 16,000 people, is pushing a new store model — one without the gas pumps that focuses on higher-margin sales of food and beverages, said Dave Woodley, the company’s executive vice president of sales and marketing.